Hybrid application solutions have evolved a lot since 2005 and are presented today as increasingly powerful tools. To help you see more clearly on this still underestimated environment, Quentin our expert and passionate about Cross-Platform gives you his analysis on the advantages, but also the limits of these technologies vis-a-vis the essential points of a mobile project.
Which hybrid solutions for which result on your mobile application?
What is Cross-Platform Technology?
The development of a mobile application on several platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone…) can quickly become a real technical challenge for those who do not master native programming languages (Java, .net, Objective-C…).
Phone Gap, Cordova and Ionic, focus on hybrid frameworks
Often in Open Source and free, there are many technologies and hybrid solutions, let’s discover those using the “Cordova” kernel:
CORDOVA, the pillar of the mobile hybrid: it is the open source core of Phone Gap.
For the record, Cordova was born from the acquisition of Niobe by Adobe in 2011, bequeathed to the Apache Foundation, Phone Gap is evolving to become Apache Cordova.
Cordova is one of the most scalable and updated frameworks, it is composed of:
• A user interface part: this is a web browser that will take up the surface of the screen. It is this native browser (UIWebview for IOS for example) which will manage all the display part and which will make the link between user interactions and the Cordova kernel.
Cordova notably offers the possibility of developing its own “Plugins” if you need additional functionalities.
PHONEGAP, the pioneer: created in 2009 by the Niobe Company and after numerous developments, it is now used as an Adobe proprietary service. Phone Gap offers a set of graphical tools for project creation, mobile test application, etc. as well as a “Cloud” solution made up of modules such as:
• Project compilation in the “Cloud”, so development teams no longer need to configure or install Cordova on their machines, nor to be equipped with a Mac for the compilation of best IOS applications.
• Online emulators.
• The possible integration of collaboration modules.
• The possibility of performing scheduled compilations, but also the integration of continuous integration tools.
• Hosting and sharing by email of the application, with the possibility of installing the application via the sharing of a link sent by email.
IONIC, the Angular revolution: Ionic by Drifty Co is a Framework created in 2013 also based on the Cordova kernel, but also integrating the “AngularJS” technology. The particularity of this new Framework is its focus on performance and a design closer to the native.
Hybrid and Design App
The design of an app brings together all the graphic and textual elements that will be displayed on your mobile screen, the visual experience of an app is therefore essential to attract your users. It must therefore be well executed. The mockups will then be the reference medium (more or less complex form to achieve, margin to be respected, etc.) to guarantee visual rendering during our hybrid development.
In view of the limitations of Phone gap, we can rule it out as an effective solution. Ionic offers as for him many components allowing to approach a native view (especially since the release of Ionic2), however when it comes to creating a “complex” view the arrangement of its components becomes complicated and anomalies. Begin to appear. Native development ensures optimal visual rendering, but requires more time and resources. Also by simply taking into account the concept of design, if it is “simple” we can advise you to use Ionic, but when it becomes more complex, it is preferable to carry out the views natively.
Hybrid App and features
Each mobile application is made up of functionalities that are more or less complex in their development. For quality rendering, it is this complexity that will determine the use of a hybrid solution compared to a native language.
Solutions can now have access to the same functionalities as native development and use it even more easily. However, in the event of a specific need (egg: business app) these solutions will no longer be compatible or will require additional work, which would then make native development the best solution.
If you are a developer you surely know (we hope) that there are tools allowing to save time or to simplify the development of your app (ex: IDE, debugging tool, external plug-ins…). If you are not, know that it is possible to facilitate the work of your technical teams!
In recent years, with the integration of hybrid solutions within mobile development IDEs, development teams have had access to the same panel of tools whether in hybrid or native development. A point everywhere, ball in the center!
Hybrid App and User Experience
The User Experience brings together the ergonomic choices that will make the use of your app pleasant: fluid navigation, rapid response from the application, intuitive interface via icons or design recognized by users.
There are now hybrid solutions like Ionic offering a user experience close to that of native development. However, some differences still exist such as animations or even a reduced performance in terms of fluidity, the ergonomics of a Hybrid app remaining by default unique regardless of the OS. So even today, if you want to have an optimal user experience, native development will be a priority.
What you must remember:
More and more scalable, hybrid solutions today offer more and more advanced possibilities in terms of mobile development and this with reductions in costs (beyond 2 OS) and time (between 30 and 50%) very advantageous, while allowing you to offer a downloadable application on the stores.
If the maintainability of hybrid apps is generally lacking (mainly because of the regular releases of new OS versions), each framework has its own strengths and weaknesses., it would be a mistake and a waste of time to try at all costs to imitate the native interfaces without taking into account the peculiarities of the Hybrid. Instead, use the benefits of each tool to create an engaging mobile experience. Thus, if Ionic is the best solution for an aesthetic and functional result, Cordova will be n ° 1 for a development compatible with Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
In view of these conclusions, hybrid developments are to be favored in the case of a POC app project (or not complex), or during a one-off application such as a contest or event (which will not be intended to be maintained in the duration). Before choosing your technology, therefore, remember to ask yourself these questions: “How complex is my project”, “On which development platforms should my app be present?” “,” What level of requirement is given to the ergonomics and design of the app? “,” How often will the updates be? »…
In the other cases, we can only advise you to turn to a native development to have a much more qualitative rendering and favorable user feedback.